Leaving aside the larger question of whether or not cosmetic surgery is required on perfectly normal-looking human beings, the process of cosmetic care is something that began when our society transitioned into a visual culture from an audio culture, right around the time televisions finally permeated every corner of the planet. Suddenly, it wasn’t just important to sound good, it was also important to look good. Thus began the beauty industry which now caters to millions of men and women around the world who spend hundreds of dollars on taking extra care of various parts of the body in order to ‘look’ a certain way. Here a few instances:
The Perfect Hair
Mostly perpetuated by shampoo commercials the image of ‘perfect’ hair varies from country, but they all have these characteristics in common: vibrant colour, length, and shine. Never mind that the majority of men and women do not have the time or money to blow dry their hair and spritz it into perfection every morning before stepping out. Women spend hours at salons trying to get rid of greying hairs, split ends and other ‘hair problems’ which will mostly be solved by a healthy diet and a good night’s sleep. Men spend thousands of dollars on hair transplants to cover up their balding head because lush hair is a sign of youth. Cosmetically speaking, hair care requires – at the very least – shampoo and conditioner, while additional products like strengthening serums, silicon oil, straightening solutions and pomades are also available for ‘perfect’ hair.
The Perfect Smile
Sometime in the past, the world’s beauty panel decided that thin lips were out; fuller lips were in. Women now spend money on getting injections and surgery trying to puff up their lips to two- three times their original size. While butter and other oils do help with chapped and/or peeling lips, there are many products in the market today that promise to make lips feel softer, younger etc. In addition, teeth are cosmetically altered from a young age to appear even and white, with the teeth whitening cost falling every day because it is such a popular procedure at the dentist.
There are also plenty of DIY kits in the store that make the teeth whitening cost only a fraction of what you paid before. Braces and retainers still cost a lot however, and require years of wearing them to gain any benefit in the later years of the children’s lives.
The Perfect Body
The backlash against this image is gaining ground, with increasing respect for all types of different bodies. However, the beauty industry is still slow to move and the archetype for women is stuck as the slim woman with almost no body fat around the chest or butt area, while men are expected to be rugged and muscly or lean and sinewy. Either way, both men and women are pressured to conform to this idealized body type although there are many other factors that impact the overall ‘look’ of a physique such as genetics, environment, diet and social position. While no one should be anorexic or obese, the ideal body type should be healthy, not a shape that is unattainable by most people.